Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J
Table of Contents
Sunday Mass is also the heart of the Liturgical Year. It is within the context of the Sunday Mass that we celebrate the various seasons of the Liturgical Year. The Liturgical Year is the most constant and most efficacious teacher the Church has. The Church’s teachings impress the mind primarily while her liturgical feasts influence both mind and heart. Before the invention of the printing press the Liturgical Year was the principal teacher for many and the only teacher for some.
Life is a journey of faith into the unknown. We come into the world. We did not ask to be here. We did nothing to get here. We were not told why; we did not get a job description or a road map. We started out on a journey of faith into the unknown. But for the Christian the journey of faith is not a completely unchartered course. Our Lord has made the journey before us. He is “the way, the truth and the life.” He came not only to redeem us but to give us an example of what it means to be authentically human; he came to show us how to live. Our life is simply a recapitulation of his life: the helplessness of infancy, the labor, obscurity and obedience of the hidden life, the temptations and mountain-top experience of the active life and finally the passion, death and resurrection.
In the Liturgical Year Jesus teaches us how to live that life. The Liturgical Year re-presents all of the major events in his life so that we can experience them, understand them better and pattern our lives on them. Within the tension of the past-present-future it informs and forms the Christian life. With a noble simplicity it re-presents the great events of salvation history so that we can discover our roots. We can remember and give thanks and in so doing grow in the conviction of the love of God for us.
is the liturgy through which, especially in the divine sacrifice of the
Eucharist ‘the work of our redemption is accomplished’ and
it is through the liturgy, especially, that the faithful are enabled to
express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and
the real nature of the true church. The church is essentially both human
and divine, visible but endowed with invisible realities, zealous in action
and dedicated to contemplation, present in the world, but as a pilgrim,
so constituted that in her the human is directed toward and subordinated
to the divine, the visible to the invisible, action to contemplation,
and this present world to that city yet to come, the object of our quest.”
Originally the Liturgical Year was simply 52 Sundays, 52 celebrations of the Paschal Mystery. In the second century the Feast of Easter was established. Then in the fourth century the Feast of Christmas was established. Then there slowly developed a period of preparation (Advent and Lent) and a period of celebration (Christmastide and Eastertide) for each of these feasts. So we have today the two liturgical seasons of Christmas and Easter.
The Liturgical Year developed slowly over the centuries and still is a work in progress. There is room for more Feasts and there is a great need especially for more Jewish Feasts. When the Liturgical Year begins on the First Sunday of Advent a lot is assumed from Judaism. We should have Feasts celebrating these events. These events are recalled in the First Readings of the Liturgy of the Word. But to give them the prominence they deserve and to illustrate more clearly their importance for an understanding of Christianity a feast is necessary.
First and perhaps most important and surely most relevant for us today would be a Feast of Creation. This is where it all begins. Genesis does not begin by trying to prove that there is a God. It presumes that there is and we know that there is. How relevant it would be for us today in this age of the “big bang” theory and secular humanism. It would help us to realize that man is the lord and steward of creation and will have to give an account of his stewardship of the air we have to breathe, the water we have to drink and the land we have to live on.
We should have a Feast of the Institution of Marriage, between a man and a woman, celebrating the family as the fundamental unit of society. This surely would be relevant in our same sex marriage culture. Then we could have a Feast of the Fall of Man. How humbling it would be to have to factor Original Sin into all of our economic and political plans and strategies. Other possibilities would be a Feast of Abraham, Our Father in Faith, reminding us that salvation is not through blood but through faith. And a Feast of The Exodus, would remind us of Sinai and the Ten Commandments.
These additional feasts
would help us to realize that this is the Judaeo-Christian religion. And
converts from Judaism would not feel that they have given up their religion
but that they are really coming home to the fullness of Judaism realizing
that Jesus is the glory of Israel.
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